Election 2017: Three to challenge Pennycook in Greenwich & Woolwich

Matthew Pennycook

Our mate Matt: Labour’s Matt Pennycook meets some chums in Woolwich

Just three candidates are taking on Greenwich & Woolwich’s sitting MP Matt Pennycook at the coming general election – with the Liberal Democrats hoping his stance on Brexit will revive their local fortunes.

Realistically, the only real question is how big Pennycook’s majority will be – in 2015, the former councillor romped home with 52.2% of the vote. He came a thumping 11,946 ahead of Tory challenger Matt Hartley, who has now crossed the Shooters Hill Road to stand in the more promising territory of Eltham.

Caroline Attfield

Caroline Attfield stood in the European Parliament elections in 2014

Rather than field one of their better-known local names, the Tories have picked Lewisham-based banker and management consultant Caroline Attfield to run in an area that hasn’t seen a Conservative victory since the 1930s. Fun fact: A Greenwich-based company registered in the name of a Caroline Attfield, Clackers Ltd, used to trade under the name of Shut Up Blackheath Ltd – she’ll be hoping for the opposite on the doorstep over the coming weeks.

Dan Garrun

The Greens’ Dan Garrun during the junior doctors’ dispute

The Greens are fielding local party co-ordinator Dan Garrun, who lives in Woolwich. He’ll be hoping their campaigning on the Enderby Wharf cruise liner terminal and Greenwich Peninsula Ecology Park will have kept them in the public’s mind.

But maybe the most intriguing question is whether the Liberal Democrats can improve on their  2015 result, where they got just 5.7% of the vote, leaving them in fifth. Candiate Chris Adams is making Brexit his main campaign theme – after Pennycook, Labour’s shadow minister for exiting the EU, supported triggering Article 50 back in February, in contrast to neighbouring Labour MPs Heidi Alexander and Vicky Foxcroft, who opposed it.

Chris Adams and Tim Farron

Smile if you’re a Lib Dem: Chris Adams with party leader Tim Farron

“Matthew Pennycook has given a green light to a hard Brexit, by voting for it despite the express will of his constituents in Greenwich and Woolwich who voted decisively to Remain in June last year,” Adams says.

“I will commit here and now to do everything in my power to keep Britain in Europe and in the Single Market.”

Pennycook set out his reasoning ahead of the vote: “To seek to nullify the referendum result by parliamentary means risks, in my view, creating further social division, fuelling the rise of the far-right, adding to the alienation already felt by a significant section of the electorate and perhaps even sparking civil unrest in some parts of the country.

“As such, I respectfully disagree with those who maintain that, whatever the potential negative social and political implications, MPs should seek to overturn the result.”

Pennycook is adamant he will fight for Britain’s interests – it’s a discussion that will surely continue at hustings planned for Mycenae House, Blackheath on 31 May and Charlton Assembly Rooms on 4 June.

Despite a healthy rise in local party membership, the Lib Dems have picked a candidate from outside the area – Adams’ address is given as being in the Dulwich and West Norwood constituency.

The Lib Dems’ vote will no doubt reflect how big an issue Brexit is for local people: but there are other issues, not least Labour’s own leader, with party volunteers reporting plenty of grumbling about Jeremy Corbyn on the doorstep.

It’s the first time just four candidates have stood in Greenwich & Woolwich since the seat was created in 1997 – and it may be the last, as the constituency is due for the chop under a boundary review. Rumours that the Monster Raving Loony Party were to stand ex-Green activist Trevor Allman proved to be baseless – despite a posting from a Twitter account purporting to be from a local branch of the party.

Greenwich & Woolwich candidates: Chris Adams (Liberal Democrats), Caroline Attfield (Conservatives), Daniel Garrun (Green), Matthew Pennycook (Labour)

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8 comments

  1. Pingback: Quiz Greenwich & Woolwich’s general election candidates at Charlton Community Hustings on Sunday 4 June | The Charlton Champion
  2. EssKay

    Matt Pennycook lost my vote the moment he voted to trigger Article 50 – against the express wishes of the overwhelming majority of his constituents.

    I don’t buy the line that he wanted to prevent social unrest. The Article 50 vote would have easily passed even if all MPs with remain constituencies had voted against it.

    The only difference would have been he would now be seen as a principled MP there to represent his constituent’s interests – rather than the self-interested career politician that he seems to have developed into.

    My vote will be going to the Lib Dems. They might be quite far behind now, but if enough people take a stand, you never know…

  3. Mart

    Very similar to EssKay, after Matthew Pennycook’s spineless betrayal in voting in favour of triggering Article 50 I will be voting Lib Dem for the first time after voting Labour for the past 33 years.
    37% in an advisory referendum was not and never will be the “overwhelming will of the people”.

  4. Paddy

    I’ve been emailing Matt Pennycook for over a year about a problem affecting the quality of life of residents of North Greenwich / The Peninsula.

    I never received a reply from Mr Pennycook, until a week ago, when he said he was aware of the problem and if he got into power again (i.e. if I voted for him) he would speak to me about the problem. So he only bothered to respond when we are 4 weeks away from an election.

    That’s why he’s not getting my vote – he offererd me no help and not even the courtesy of replying to my emails, until he thought it could benefit him.

  5. Kate

    Lifelong Labour, but really dislike the way Matt Pennycook (and Starmer) have miscalc’d on opposition to Brexit. They were only interested in their Leave voting constituency; they then dug themselves a hole; the Tories have run rings around them. I also emailed him without reply. My husband got an auto response to his email (these were long before the election was called). I went to the Greenwich for Europe meeting at which he spoke, and found him defensive and dismissive of any criticism, no matter how constructive or politely expressed.
    I won’t vote LD though, at least not until or unless they stand aside for Clive Efford in Eltham. The Tory/UKIP alliance wins that, we have a very hard Brexiteer indeed in parliament and the vote will be close. The Greens have stood aside. The Green and LD vote in 2015 were both only 3% but those 2000-odd votes could make all the difference.
    I might vote Green as G/W is a very safe seat for Pennycook but I want him to know that there are those who oppose him.

  6. Darryl

    Just for clarity, since the comments have turned the way they have, I did delete a comment which was just denigrated one party and promoted another that could have been cut and pasted from anywhere.

  7. JJ

    Likewise the Article 50 is a killer for me for Pennycook, particularly rolling over to pass it without amendments on parliamentary oversight. May as well just vote for Tories if we wanted that. But I disagree with Paddy, I found that he did communicate with me before the election and he seems decent enough otherwise. Just a shame he put party before country and constituents.

    In years to come I can see MPs regretting voting for Article 50, like those who cheered Iraq vote then said that they made a mistake. At least they only ruined someone else’s country.

    On local levels let’s be honest Labour hates Charlton, I can’t think of anything they’ve done other than funnel our money into their failed Woolwich town centre developments. We need someone not from Labour to give the local council the boot it needs. LD for me.

  8. Caroline Attfield

    Congratulations on the depth of your research. My Shut up company for the sake of transparency is a franchise on ShutUpZone, https://shutupzone.com/an exciting technology startup that I have been mentoring/supporting. More information about me as a non-traditional (female, business career and sadly much older than the other Greenwich and Woolwich contenders) type of candidate on carolineattfield.com